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Uncontrollable weather helm on port tack

Cellobob

New Member
Hi there,

I’m a newbie sailor. I have sailed Solings a little, and a wayfarer. I’m on vacation, and there’s an old Sunfish. I went out, probably gusts to 15, and I was doing ok. But, when close hauled on port tack there was uncontrollable weather helm. Starboard tack was no problem. Ideas?

thanks,
Bob
 

Cellobob

New Member
Is the sail rigged to roughly the same height and boom angle as shown on the boat in these pics? https://www.sunfishclass.org/documents/learn_2_sail_in_3_days.pdf If not, you should adjust it via moving the gooseneck and halyard. The sail can go lower, but not higher than what is shown.

The gooseneck can go as far back as 20 inches or so in 15 kts, assuming you are using a wooden daggerboard.
Well, I’m not sure; it may have been higher. I’ll try lower tomorrow! I don’t understand the gooseneck idea. The gooseneck just slides up and down the mast, no fore/aft adjusting.
 

beldar boathead

Well-Known Member
Well, I’m not sure; it may have been higher. I’ll try lower tomorrow! I don’t understand the gooseneck idea. The gooseneck just slides up and down the mast, no fore/aft adjusting.
The gooseneck is kept from sliding on the lower boom via a screw or nut. You loosen that, slide it to the right location, and re-tighten.

If the sail is too high, don’t just lower it some. Instead, re-tie the halyard to the upper boom further toward the head (top) of the sail.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
Hi there,

I’m a newbie sailor. I have sailed Solings a little, and a wayfarer. I’m on vacation, and there’s an old Sunfish. I went out, probably gusts to 15, and I was doing ok. But, when close hauled on port tack there was uncontrollable weather helm. Starboard tack was no problem. Ideas?

thanks,
Bob
I wouldn't expect to sail as close-hauled on a Sunfish as a Soling. (Especially on port tack—which comes with the flaw of all lateen rigs). The gooseneck includes a clamp that allows the lower spar to be moved back or forwards. You'll need a large screwdriver, and maybe some WD-40 on the spar.

As for hardware, check that the rudder and tiller operate with the same motions on both tacks, and that the daggerboard is the correct length—straight—and not "cupped".
 

Sailflow

Active Member
Cellobob something looks wrong on the back pulley in that picture. It looks like the hook is up to the pulley. How long is the bridle that goes over the tiller? Either the bridle is very long or the hook on the sheet is not attached to the bridle. Also, do you have a tiller extension? The extension allows you to sit up in the front of the cockpit. Your front leg should be at the front of the cockpit.
 

L&VW

Well-Known Member
The mainsheet hanging (suspended) between the blocks tends to snag on one's PFD.

One (or two) tubes formed around the boom with duck tape will lift the mainsheet.
 

signal charlie

Well-Known Member
Staff member
The sheet hook is not attached to the bridle in the photo, that may have happened after you were done. I'd move the halyard up one ring on the upper boom, that would give you a little more sail forward of the mast. Also let us know how long your daggerboard is, it should be 39 inches minimum to have enough lever arm to work efficiently with the rudder and prevent leeway drift on that port tack, where the sail has interrupted airflow as the sail lays on the mast. Looks like a good bit of your drive is aft, which would weathervane you and create that weather helm you mentioned.

Good looking boat, we love that Riviera sail pattern, a few minor sail, tiller and seating adjustments should get you straightened up and sailing right!
 
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